Monday, March 30, 2015

Where to Get Cheap Books

The legal way to read cheap or free books.

I've been reading more than ever. Not all of it has been Pulizter prize material, mind you, but all of it has been perfect for its intended purpose. I read fan fiction and online serials late at night or when I want to read something edgy/outside my usual genre. [Sidenote: I don't call these pleasure reads anymore because I've come to realize that everything you read should be pleasurable, and calling someone else's effort a pleasure read implies that it's less worthy than something a critic has determined to be Important. "Pleasure read" implies that, for whatever reason, I'm ashamed of what I'm reading or ashamed to be...enjoying myself? Ashamed and reading should never occur in the same sentence. I'm a wide and varied reader. I own it.]

At work I read whatever I'm interested at the moment, though I do avoid fan fiction/online serials because I read those only on my iPad, and I don't like the kids to see me tethered to a device. Mostly, I read a lot of Newbery winners. They are right there in my library! I also read books on faith or faith formation, new release middle grade fiction, or books that I've bought long ago and have yet to read.

All told, I read between 1-3 books per week, not including picture books or books like Mercy Watson.

Yet, as I prepare for taxes and review our spending for the year, I see that I have spent less on books this year than in years past. Much less! I'm going to share my not-so-secret methods in hopes that you do the same. I should caution you that my tips are pretty ordinary--I'm sure many if not all of you already uses the sources I'm going to share.

The Library

I mean, duh. Go there first. You already pay for it in tax dollars, and I will bet your library system is far better than mine. Even mine has an Overdrive ap, which allows you to check out ebooks. I've been complaining online for years about my lackluster library and guess what? IT STILL SUCKS.


This free site is the holy grail for ebook lovers. BookBub has you indicate your reading interests when you sign up. You receive alerts to books you may like are on sale. Here's an screenshot of an email I received on Sunday.

I have middle grade and children's fiction selected as one of my interests. Obviously.

Net Galley

Net Galley is the way most book bloggers get prerelease books. I use Net Galley, too, even though I'm not a book blogger. They're easy-going about who they accept as readers, but it's the publishers who ultimately determine what book you will be approved to review. Again, like BookBub, you register for free and indicate your interests. You'll receive emails based on those interests, but those books are almost always so-so. The good books are those you search. You can search by publisher or by topic.

The categories are endless. Then, when a book sounds interesting, you click a button and request it from the publisher. You can wait for days or minutes for approval; it depends on the publisher and the book. Young Adult and New Adult books are hard to get (which is a big, fat WHO CARES for me since I dislike YA and NA), so that's something to think about if you're a fan of those genres.

This is my dashboard. You can see my categories on the left. The books displayed aren't in my chosen categories, and I suspect they are there to lure me into trying a different genre. Those first two books!  O_o

Project Gutenberg and Similar

Project Gutenberg is devoted to digitizing archival works. Not that they listened to me, but I did tell my decathletes to use the site to read The Call of the Wild for free.

Project Gutenberg isn't the only of its kind. The Internet Archive and Open Library, for example, offers over 6,000,000 fully accessible public domain eBooks. (Text straight from the website.) Open Library is where to go for the classics.


Story Cartel is similar to Net Galley, but it looks like the approval is automatic. I've never used them, so I can't vouch for the quality of what you'll read.

Amazon and Barnes and Noble both Daily Deals you can check out. Tip: if there is a series you've heard about but haven't read, the time to start reading the series is right before the next book comes out. At that time, Amazon will drop the prices of the previous books as an enticement, hoping to get you to buy when the new release comes out. You can also read them from the library if yours doesn't suck.

There is one more great site I have to share but...I can't remember the name! I know, it can't be great if I never use it, but the reason I don't use it is because it has a lot of young adult books. I found out about it in either The Horn Book (not what you think, lawyers) or VOYA, which explains why there were so many young adult books. If someone could help me out with the name, I'd be so grateful! I remember something about roots or linking readers or something. I remembered! It's Edelweiss. And I also remembered why I don't use it. The website is not user friendly and confusing to navigate.

Okay, so that about covers it. It goes without saying that there are many, many other ways to get free or cheap books--legally or not. I focuses on the sources I personally use.


  1. As a publisher, we pink puffy heart NetGalley and how active their reviewer community is.

    On the ebook bargain side, what a lot of people don't know is that all retailers price match, so if you're a Nook user and you see someone share a Kindle deal, there's a comparable Nook deal (or there at least will be in a few days when the pricing refreshes).

    1. Yes, that's what I like about BookBub. I don't feel like hunting for bargains on Amazon and B&N (I have both) so it's nice to get an email alert detailing what's on sale.


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